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Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg in uncharted territory going into Game 6 of the World Series

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With the season on the line, the Nationals turn to Stephen Strasburg, who helped them take Game 2 of the World Series in Houston.

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While the baseball world might be excited about a Stephen Strasburg vs Justin Verlander matchup in Game 6 of the World Series tomorrow night, in a rematch of Game 2 starters, Strasburg told reporters in the nation’s capital on Sunday that especially under American League rules, the opposing pitcher wasn’t really a concern of his.

“Yeah, it’s an American League game,” he explained. “So he’s obviously not going to be getting in the box.

“What he does against us is really irrelevant to what I have to focus on, and that’s their lineup and finding a way to keep them at bay.”

But still, it’s a matchup against a future Hall of Fame pitcher?

“I mean, I really don’t look at the opposing pitcher,” Strasburg reiterated. “Again, it’s who I’m facing, the hitters that I’m facing. That’s my job.”

That isn’t to say he doesn’t have a healthy respect for the situation he’s pitching in against the Astros in his second start of the World Series in Minute Maid Park.

“Pitching at this point in the season, it’s a tremendous honor, and I’m going to go out there and compete and give it everything I have.”

It’s also taxing. The ‘09 No. 1 overall pick, is now up to 237 innings pitched on the season, 22 more than he’s ever thrown in a single campaign.

“It’s definitely uncharted territory,” Strasburg acknowledged.

“And I’m just trying to continue to do what I’ve tried to do all year, is just take it one day at a time and just listen to the body.”

In five games (four starts) and 28 IP in October, the 31-year-old right-hander, who finished the regular season with an (18-6) record, a 3.32 ERA, 56 walks, 256 Ks, and a .210/.271/.349 line against in 209 innings pitche, has a 1.93 ERA, two walks, 40 Ks, and a .234/.245/.374 line against heading into tomorrow’s outing, with six of his postseason innings coming in Game 2, when he gave up two runs on seven hits in the 12-3 win in the Astros’ home.

His total starts and inning-pitched were the second most of his career, behind only the 34 starts and 215 innings he pitched in 2014, and he told reporters that his durability, has a lot to do with the conditioning he did over the winter and continued throughout the year.

“I think mechanically I’ve been able to be a little bit more consistent when I go out there and pitch,” Strasburg said.

“Just made some minor tweaks in the offseason training program,” he explained, “I kind of put more emphasis on just strength, not so much endurance, and trying to get my weight up. And I was able to kind of ride that throughout the year.”

Asked what the challenges were in going up against the Astros again in such a short span of time, Strasburg said it isn’t much different than how things work during the regular season.

“Yeah, the schedule it seems like each year you’ll go, you’ll play the Phillies and then you’ll come around next week and you’ll play them again,” he said.

“Really, it comes down to execution of pitches. Their approaches might change a little bit, but the important thing is to go out there and pound away and trust your stuff.”

He didn’t know when he spoke that he’d be trying to keep the Nationals’ World Series hopes alive, but they dropped the third straight to the Astros to fall behind 3-2 after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

With Strasburg on the mound in Game 6, Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said last night, “I like our chances, you know, keeps us in the ball game. Who knows what can happen.”